Part 23 – Family Ties

By the time I reached Riverside drive, I’d lost my renewed surge of adrenaline and wanted nothing more than to curl up into a nice soft bed and sleep for a decade or two. Short of breaking into someone’s house, that would not happen. So I continued onward, locating a house number on one of the nearest homes and made my way north from there.

Before long I was standing in front of the Turow house and I stood there heart hammering in my chest. The windows were dark and there were no cars in the driveway. I didn’t hold out much hope that anyone was home, but there was only one way I would know for certain.

I found a little stone pathway, followed it to the front porch and rang the bell before coming to a stop. Several minutes passed by, and nobody answered. I rang again, but as I expected no one came to the door.

I bowed my head and sighed, collapsing atop the porch, resting my back against the door and cupping my face with both hands. They’d be back sooner or later. If I hadn’t been so tired, I might have knocked on a neighbor’s door, but it didn’t even occur to me.

I guess I drifted off to sleep because the next thing I knew I was being shaken awake. A groan escaped my lips and my eyelids slid open. I felt a weight on my shoulder and turned my head and looked into a pair of bright blue eyes.

“Honey, are you okay?” she asked a sad smile marking a face bathed in shadows. I shook my head, attempting to dispel the lingering haze and squinted my eyes straining to make out more of her face.

“I, uh, yeah, I think so,” I replied and peered up as a second figure approached.

“Do you have anyone we can call? Are you in trouble, dear?”

I bit my lip, tears streaming down my face. My brain, though muddy when I’d first came around, was now racing as I fought to find the words.

“I-I, I’m looking for Harry Turow,” I said, glancing up at the man. I strained my eyes, trying to make out his face, but it was too dark.

“Harry?” The woman asked glancing back at the man.

“Could he be a relative of yours? I-I think he might be my father?”

Again, the woman glanced at the man. She turned back to me, smiled and cupped my cheek with her hand. “You appear to have been through quite the ordeal. Why don’t we get you inside? We can draw a warm bath, we can get you some clean clothes then we can talk about Harry. Does that sound good?”

I glanced down at myself, my cheeks burning when I realized how I must look. Even in the dark, she had seen that I was soaked to the bone, but worse yet, mud covered my pant legs and shoes.

The woman rose to her feet and held a hand out. I glanced up at her my heart fluttering in my chest. Normally, I’d hesitate to go into a stranger’s home, but this time I didn’t even hesitate. Perhaps the prospect of a hot bath and clean clothes had swayed me, but somehow I got the sense I could trust her.

I took her hand and let her help pull me up, but I leveraged myself against the door to lighten the load. She slipped a hand around my back and with a gentle tug guided me away from the door. The man breezed past, jangling a set of keys in his hands. He had the entrance open in seconds, and light spilled out from the opening illuminating the porch.

I winced, shielding my eyes from the sudden illumination, but stepped forward at the woman’s urging. Stumbling into the house, I jumped when the door slammed shut behind me. I cast my eyes about before settling them on the woman a sheepish grin stretching across my face.

The home, though large compared to my mother’s, was modest in size. The floors were all hardwood, there was no carpet, save for a runner that ran into the kitchen doorway and a large area rug that lay in the center of the living room. A large sofa and loveseat rested on either side of the room and a coffee table sat between them. Against the wall opposite me a large stand housed a holo display.

I glanced at the couple, getting my first good look at their faces. I’d put them somewhere in their fifties, no doubt old enough to be Harry Turow’s parents. While I’d never laid eyes on her before, there was a familiar quality to the woman’s features. Though her face was careworn, and her dark hair had more than a little gray, her high-cheekbones and generous lips suggested she had been quite the looker in her youth. The man was tall and broad-shouldered and had the build of a linebacker.

“Good lord,” the woman gasped after turning to face me, and cupped a hand over the bottom half of her face. “Who’s your mother?”

I wasn’t quite sure what had prompted the reaction, but pursed my lips and swallowed. “Kate Rumsfield.”

“Do you recall the name of the girl Harry was dating before…”

She trailed off before she could finish and the pair stared at each other with wide eyes. The man’s finger twitched and watched his hands move in a furious blur of motion. Understanding dawned on me and I bit my lip. He must have either been speech or hearing impaired.

The woman smiled, cupping both of my cheeks with her hands. “What’s your name dear?”

“Jim…” I paused blushing again. “I’ve been calling myself Calista since…” I glanced down at myself. “Well, since this happened.”

Neither one of them even so much as batted an eyelash. Then again, I’d turned up on their doorstep looking like some oversized demon Smurf, I guess the revelation I used to be a boy wasn’t much more of a stretch. This was Spiral, after all. As I understood it, twists like mine were rare, but not unheard of.

“Poor dear, I’m Liz and this-” she held a hand out motioning toward the man. “Is David my husband. He can hear anything you might say, but his twist left him without the ability to speak. I’ll be happy to translate for you.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said still not sure what was going on or if I should call them out on it. They seemed harmless enough, but they kept giving each other these odd looks, like they knew something I didn’t.

“Honey, would you move the carpet out of the way?”

At first, I thought she was talking to me, but realized she’d direct the comment at her husband. He nodded, moved forward and slid the runner into the kitchen.

“Now, why don’t we see about that bath?” Liz turned to me a smile touching the corner of her lips.